5 jailed in tainted pork scandal
Five people in Henan received sentences ranging from nine years to suspended death yesterday for producing and selling a banned pig-feed additive called clenbuterol, also known as 'lean meat' powder.
In addition, three employees of the animal quarantine and inspection station in Qinyang were sentenced to five to six years in prison for dereliction of duty. They were found to have issued permits without testing pigs and allowed 38,000 contaminated animals to be sold to Jiangsu and Henan, China National Radio reports.
The five clenbuterol producers and dealers were convicted of 'endangering public security by using dangerous means', the penalty for which ranges from three years in prison to death. Their conviction came about four months after the country's largest meat processor, Shuanghui, was found to have used pigs fed with the additive.
Liu Xiang , a Hubei native who was sentenced to death with a two-year suspension, started making clenbuterol in 2007 and had made 2.7 tonnes in his 100-square-metre workshop in Nanzhang county, Hubei, by March, when the scandal was exposed.
The workshop was the source of the clenbuterol-tainted pork used by Shuanghui, which China Central Television exposed as having used pigs fed with the banned additive, the Jiaozuo Intermediate People's Court told heard.
Prosecutors said the distribution of the additive must have affected many thousands of pigs, because the typical amount given to each pig was just one gram.
Liu produced the 'lean meat' powder with Xi Zhongjie, his former co-worker at a pharmaceutical company, and sold the powder to pig farmers in Anhui, Shandong and Henan, making more than 2.5 million yuan (HK$3 million). Xi received life imprisonment.
Xiao Bing, a dealer in Henan, bought the clenbuterol from Liu, paying 2,000 yuan per kilogram and selling it to pig farmers in Anhui and Henan at between 3,000 and 4,000 yuan per kilogram. He made a profit of 600,000 yuan. Chen Yuwei, of Zhengzhou, sold more than 600 kilograms of clenbuterol, making 700,000 yuan. Xiao was sentenced to 15 years and Chen received 14 years in jail.
Liu's wife, Liu Honglin, was deemed an accomplice for purchasing raw materials and was sentenced to nine years in jail.
The five confessed to producing and selling the dangerous chemical, but they pleaded not guilty to the charges, including endangering the public, because they were not aware of the consequences of the chemical, they were not committing the crime collectively and that they should not be responsible for the financial losses of Shuanghui and the pig farms.
Prosecutors said Shuanghui's Jiyuan , Henan, branch suffered losses of over 30 million yuan after the scandal broke, resulting in diminished pig sales - a drop of 49.76 per cent over a year ago - causing 160 million yuan in losses to other pig farms.
They said the five were responsible for the public panic and Shuanghui's losses, even though Shuanghui failed to test for clenbuterol in its pigs.
Liu Honglin, who cried in court, said they were unaware of the dangers of clenbuterol, saying her family had eaten the contaminated pork.
The number of people detained by police in March when authorities first acted against clenbuterol-tainted pork appearing in food supplies